- Associated Press - Thursday, November 12, 2015

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - One of the men involved in a bath salts bust in Harrison and Upshur counties has been sentenced to three years and five months in prison.

Sixty-year-old John Skruck, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, was sentenced Tuesday.

Skruck was the manager of the Hot Stuff Cool Things smoke shops in Clarksburg and Buckhannon. In 2014, Skruck pleaded guilty to one count of drug conspiracy and one count of structuring monetary transactions to evade the reporting requirements of the IRS. In 2011 and 2012, Skruck helped conspire to distribute bath salts and other synthetic drugs at the smoke shops he managed.

After his initial arrest, Skruck fled West Virginia and was eventually captured by U.S. Marshals in New Mexico.

Skruck was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Irene M. Keeley, who noted that “this community suffered. The chaos from that venture … the damaged lives is something that may be irreparable to those involved with it.”

Skruck wept as he apologized in court. He said he came to West Virginia to fix a friend’s business venture, but indicated he stayed - because of greed - even after he realized that synthetic drugs were unlawfully changing hands routinely at the Hot Stuff Cool Things smoke shops.

Defense attorney Harry Smith III of Elkins descrobed Skruck as the patriarch of a large family who has helped many people, including taking in the homeless and adopting a child.

“Although he’s guilty of a serious crime, he’s taken responsibility,” Smith added.

All of the other defendants in the case have been sentenced.

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